The Shodor Education Foundation, Inc, is an award-winning premier resource for computational science education. Founded by Robert Michael Panoff Ph.D. in Durham, N.C, way back in 1994.
Shodor provides both physical workshops and online resources that are aimed at transforming learning through computational thinking. Their mission is “to improve math and science education through the effective use of modeling and simulation technologies — “computational science”. Their growing online suite of SaaS education tools includes Computational Science Education Reference Desk (CSERD) and a Pathway Portal of the National Science Digital Library (NSDL).
Michael saw the opportunity to create Shodor in the 90’s while other education-focused organizations were still using CD’s to capture and share their resources. He decided to radically transform how resources were shared in his field and use the internet to effectively reach a larger audience and expand the user base.
Real Time Data Manipulation
Shodor has an impressive ability to allow students to “learn math and science concepts in a much more realistic and meaningful way”. This ability has improved dramatically over the years as Shodor has responded to the advancements in technology and enhanced their products. Both educators and students love how you can manipulate data with the Shodor SaaS and see the results right before your eyes.
Now the tools are used internationally by students, and the Shodor website gets an impressive 3.5 million page views per month. Shodor gives students world-class opportunities to be professionals at a young age. Their educational tools are aimed at students from middle school right up to university age, giving students the tools and expertise to succeed in a technology-focused career path.
Growing Team of Specialists
The team at Shodor are extremely experienced professionals in the field of science and technology and mentor many students worldwide. In 2011 their Associate Director, Patricia Jacobs won an award for her forward-thinking strategies. The team of professionals are very approachable, each member of staff is listed on the site and can be contacted directly.
Shodor provides trainees the chance to gain valuable work experience in their award-winning company, via their internship program. Each year they welcome several new interns to their team. On the Shodor website, there are archives of interns that have taken part in the program to work towards their education since 2003.
In addition to the internships, hundreds of apprentices have been welcomed at Shodor from 2006 to the current day. These are all archived. This provides a valuable career path for young people looking to work in the field of Computational Science.
Award Winning Products & Services
Shodor has won many prizes for their excellence in many areas of their business. For example, they were the Grand Prize Winner in the Non-Profit Category of the Cisco Growing with Technology Awards in 2007, in particular, they were awarded for their “innovative use of networking technology”.
Shodor’s interactive website has been given A+ ratings for content and design from Education World (a prestigious website for educators). In addition to this two of Shodor’s websites, Computational Science Education Reference Desk (CSERD) and Interactivate were honourees in the 11th Annual Webby awards.
Pros and Cons
Shodor has an amazing team of award-winning specialists on hand and willing to share their knowledge in HPC (high-performance computing )with the world. These experts mentor students one-to-one, allowing students to maximize their performance in the areas of computational science.
Shodor has great funding in place for their projects, as well as relationships with a lot of Educational bodies from HPC University to the National Computational Science Institute (NCSI), and a whole lot more besides. These partnerships enhance the opportunities available and open up doors for the students of Shodor.
A Growing Bank of Online tools
The vast array of online tools available via the Shodor network is very impressive. We can imagine that this will only grow in the future as Shodor expands into different areas. An example of a recent advancement in their tools would be the new dynamic mathematical app for iPad/iTouch/iPhone devices.
Workshops and apprenticeships are mainly based in Carolina and a lot of the opportunities are local – when it comes to prizes and awards for excellence in computational science. The fact that the workshops and internships are in the US, is not such great news for everyone. We would love to see the Shodor services rolled out nationwide (as planned) and even internationally in the future.
Shodor: The Student Offering
Shodor provides a broad range of tools, workshops, and services for students studying math, science, and computing.
Below is a brief outline of each of their offerings.
- Apprenticeships – Shodor offers an Apprentice Program for gifted students in science, math or computing. This program is geared towards paid employment after the completion of set goals.
- Online Activities – Shodor provides online tools to support advanced chemistry, math and science. In addition to this, the accessibility for students with hearing or visual impairment is excellent, with specialized tools provided for students in these categories.
- Internships – Interns help develop and expand the online tools that Shodor offers.
- SUCCEED WORKSHOPS – Shodor offers science, math, and computing workshops throughout the year for middle and high school students.
- Blue Waters Student Internship Program – Shodor works in collaboration with The NCSA Blue Waters project, the National Computational Science Institute (NCSI), and National HPC programs. This program is aimed at furthering high-performance computing (HPC) by preparing students with computational thinking skills.
- Computation Matters – Currently based in Carolina (US) this program partners with schools to help students “to grow from excitement to experience to expertise”.
- Computational Science Education Reference Desk (CSERD) – Is a project created in collaboration with the National Science Digital Library and is funded by the National Science Foundation. The project aims to help students learn about computational science and to help educators teach it in the classroom.
Shodor: for the Educator
Shodor provides both online courses and physical workshops in computational science aimed at university faculties. Below is a brief outline of the services provided for the educator:
- Professional Development for Teachers – Computing MATTERS is a Professional Development Program created to assist local teachers in the effective use of computing technologies in their classrooms, after-school programs, or workshops.
- NCSI Workshops & Courses – Delivered by Shodor and their partners to provide training in subjects such as computational chemistry and air quality sciences.
To Sum Up
Given the amount of research, expertise and impressive partnerships that Shodor has built up over the years, we can only envisage this company growing onwards and upwards. Shodor delivers an end to end student experience, whether it is learning at home, in the classroom, workshops or getting immersed in a full internship. Shodor provides a complete service for up and coming scientists and mathematicians in the area of computational science.